White is boring, cold, “like a hospital” — I’ve heard it all a million times. But I argue that if done right, a neutral palette can be warm, inviting and a very nice and flexible base in which to work with. It’s especially good for those of us who like to decorate seasonally, swapping out the aubergine pillows with the pale aqua ones for the Summer months, for instance. In a moment, I’m going to show you a very nice example of white done right. But first, I must confess that I’ve been quite a Flickr/expat blog addict lately because I’m trying to find fellow bloggers who live in my new country so that I’m able to not only read their blogs but see how they live, where they shop and what they do for fun. I figure reading local blogs may help me as an expat to navigate my way around and so far, it is helping out immensely. Today I was reading Rearranged Design and found Busy Bee’s blog which is about a girl and her boyfriend, Iro & Jan and their 700 square foot penthouse apartment in Frankfurt. Upon seeing it, I thought I’d share bits of it with you. You’ll see why…
Love the IKEA frames with inserts of postcards and wallpaper — and I really like the cozy gray chair and am dying to learn where she found it as I’m in need of a chair so badly for my living room. So pretty! The stacks of magazines look great and since they’re all the same, with neat white spines, this look totally works without looking cluttered.
Here’s a nice living room view. I can imagine evenings spent on this sofa surrounded by flickering candles and my favorite music… with yummy snacks on the table and a big glass of wine. Oh yes, “the” life.
Here’s a glimpse of her eating nook, so common here in Germany is to have the living room and dining room combined like this. It’s not very common at all to have a separate room only for a dining area in a typical city apartment anyway. In a home or a very large apartment yes — but not at all common in the city. My dining room is also part of my living room, much like this. Don’t you love her teapot?
I’m not completely sure what the kitchen looks like, but this view gives me the impression that it is neat and well organized. I like how she arranged her spices. The most common arrangement is to simply put them all in an orderly row. But no, no — she’s “spiced” things up a bit with her zig zag design. Cute!
Here’s another view of her dining area. Nice, right? I think so too!
Here’s a good view of the entire area, the living room and then if you look to the left and squint a little and pull your chair up thisclose to the screen you’ll see the work area she has designed and managed to nicely separate from the living/dining space. Directly to your left in this photo is the nook where she reads on that gray chair that I must have! :)
Here’s the working nook she’s carved out for herself. Nice, eh?
Here’s their bedroom, which has a little more color and a cozy feel to it. I think her man must feel really comfortable in here with the deeper colors combined with her neutral palette.
What a nice morning breakfast spot, don’t you agree? Less is definitely more here.
In the Busy Bee blog, she talks a lot about decorating on her blog along with life in Germany (she’s from Greece originally) so I really appreciate learning her viewpoints. She’s also on Flickr where I’ve added her as a friend (you can too, here). Her apartment is refreshing and cozy in every way — it’s neutral for one with lots of texture and a variety of white tones ranging from bright white to cozy creams and soft beige. She knows how to do neutrals right, don’t you agree? And she uses a nice mix of IKEA finds along with things from other stores. Another high five to her for keeping it real and affordable while still infusing the rooms with her own style. Nice!
(images: Iro & Jan@ Busy Bee’s Blog)
I have such a lovely apartment to share with you today! I was contacted by research scientist (neuroscience, molecular and cell biology) Morgane Rouault who lives in Berlin and asked if she could share her place with us on decor8. Why, of course! I’m always interested in how people live, especially in big cities, and being that I’m so close to Berlin I’m even more intrigued to “meet” new people living nearby. Morgane lives in a district of the city called Prenzlauer Berg/Mitte which is one of my favorite spots because there are some beautiful old buildings there and lots of funky, hip design and cafes to hang out in. Morgane is originally from Brittany in France, she spent four years in Brooklyn and now she’s in Berlin. In her free time she loves to decorate (obvious from her beautiful flat that she’s also quite good at it!), sew and craft things which she sells in her little etsy shop. I asked her a few questions about her style and impressions of Berlin so let’s see her apartment and have a chat with her today, shall we?
How many rooms is your rental apartment? The apartment used to be a 4 rooms plus a kitchen and bath but some walls have been broken down and there is now a huge open space, the kitchen opens on the living room that is only separated from the living room by a wall opened on both sides. It has windows everywhere, spacious and full of light.
What do you love about being back in Europe after living in Brooklyn? One exciting thing about moving to Berlin, apart from being back to Europe, was the possibility to have a big and relatively cheap apartment. Well, we had to fight for it, but I had a dream apartment of 95 square meters, in the middle of the city, with a huge terrace and on the last floor of an old but renovated building. When we moved in, the apartment was freshly painted, the wood floor had been renovated and the kitchen was empty. We were therefore free to chose everything we wanted.
How long have you lived in Berlin? We moved in this apartment in May (only a few months ago!), but I can easily imagine myself living here for several years, Prenzlauer Berg, the neighborhood is absolutely wonderful, active, green and also quiet and calm. It feels very good to live here.
What inspired your color palette and selections? Our former apartment in Park Slope had an old very dark (therefore beautiful) wooden floor. I think I was first inspired by the amazing light that is constantly in the apartment. I wanted to have color themes for the rooms, but with a dominant of white.
The entrance door arrives directly between the living room and the kitchen, so we only placed there a bench with coat hangers. We bought that bench in Brooklyn, it was built in an Amish community following Amish traditions. The shelf is actually used to hold hats during mass, I used it to put books and my garden box. I made two pillows with fabric I bought at a local wonderful shop called Frau Tulpe.
The kitchen was custom made by a local artist, Minim. We wanted something functional, original and simple. The poster is one of our few obvious souvenirs of the big apple: the MTA Coney island poster. Above from the kitchen table are three colorful frames, one drawing is from Underneath My Tree, a polaroid picture of beautiful Brooklyn taken by me, and a tree in the wind watercolors painting that Imade few years ago.
Because the kitchen is entirely made of birch wood, I wanted to have plenty of color as a contrast. We therefore bought colorful appliances And I painted frames and added several colorful tea boxes.
For the living room, I think one important element of this room is the Adirondack rocking chair that we bought on Cape Cod 3 years ago (for $60), I was thinking about painting it white but changed my mind. The green lazure paint is starting to fade because we are sitting on this chair so much and I didn’t want to erase those traces of time. We chose a green sofa that we purchased here in Berlin, it is from a Sanish company called Softline. The huge coffee table is from Habitat, but I purchased it very long ago, when I was a student in a tiny antique store on Hudson Street in Manhattan. It was dark red, so I had to sand 2 or 3 layers of paint before I was able to paint it white. Now it holds a terrarium, some glassware I had from my previous laboratory and a table lamp I bought at the flea market, and I created a brand new shade. Most pillows from the living room were made by me and I bought the fabric at the local wonderful shop called Frau Tulpe (Editor’s Note: they also have an online store). We chose to organize our books by colors, it is definitely more beautiful.
The big cloud frame is one of my favorite object in the apartment. We found it on the side walk of 3rd Avenue while the Urban Outfitters store was getting rid of some furniture. We were lucky enough to be there at the right time. It was yellow, we painted white and frame one of our cloud picture in it. This picture inspired the color of the dining room, all pillows and pictures are blue. Some pillows in the dining room were made by a local very cute store on Choriner Strasse in called Rosenrot. All chairs were found in local flea markets and painted in white. The bench is an Amish bench bought in Brooklyn (that I already talked about above) and the huge wonderful table is from IKEA.
The wall between the dining room and the living room is a little empty by choice, after living for 3 years in 35 square meters, we chose to have more space, meaning less furniture and less frames everywhere on the wall. I found theses 4 identical frames at a flea market in Vienna (I had to clean them and to paint them white). The vase is from the Conran shop and I made the white frame hosting two lovers on a bench few years ago.
The “rue pont du lindin” is a beautiful street in my home town in France, it happened to end up in my hands when I was a teenager, since then I try to have it in all my apartments. It didn’t make it to NYC so I was very happy to find it back after few years. All ceramics on this side are handmade by me. When I was in Brooklyn, I was a student at Choplet Studio in Williamsburg.
The bedroom is full of color but maybe with a dominant glimpse of orange. When we enter the room, this is where we can find a mannequin that I got from a clothes store clearance, maybe 15 years ago, I bought it 50 francs! The frame is also handmade with dried flowers we collected on one of our trip to Fire Island.
The chest of drawers is fom IKEA, except that I changed all handles, I bought them all at Anthropologie, it was a lot of money but was definitely worth it. It changed the entire design of the chest of drawers and made it absolutely unique. On top of the chest of drawers is a collection of found stones and seashells from all over the world.
Our side table is an vintage Sunkist orange box that I bought in an antique store in Kansas.
The wall facing the chest of drawers is filled up with beautiful art framed in antique frames: from left to right, little house (from me), lavender bouquet (from my dear friend Pascaline), dragonfly postcard (I forgot where it’s from), a cypress tree (from Persian Garden), a Polaroid painting (by Michelle Maule), a flower birdhouse (from Not Too Pink), a postcard from Kate’s Paperie, and a raindrop parade print (from Underneath My Tree).
The rocking chair at the corner of the bedroom is from IKEA, I made two of the three pillows that are here, the other one is from Rosenrot. I purchased the painting above the chair at the Giant Robot in the east village, after the Dan-ah Kim exhibition last winter. It is so beautiful that it has to be by itself on one wall.
On the other side of the hallway, there is the workshop/guest room… a nice space for our creations and our friends. The garland is standing on top of the guest bed and I was inspired by a DIY tutorial from creature comforts, I made slight personal changes, like the additional felt balls. The printed silk elephant is from India and was beautifully framed by my mother. And here stands the space I was dreaming for many years, a drawing table, a workshop cart, a basket full of papers, a sewing machine, a dremel, an enlarger, and enough space to use all of them freely… it still makes me dream.
On the other side of the room, there is an arrangement of art of all kinds, a street sign from Spain (I use to collect them all with the complicity of my father), a homemade drawing, a picture of Brooklyn, a photo/enlarger montage made by me, a grass symbolic frame from 2006, and an amazing drawing from Japanese artist Yummee Kyang bought in Williamsburg.
Last but not the least, the Terrasse, where we grow aromatic plants, tomatoes, cucumbers and flowers. It is big enough to have a barbecue and a colorful table with four colorful chairs.
Where do you shop for your home decorating items? Flea markets, Etsy, DaWanda, Outside in the forests and on beaches, local art supply stores and anywhere that something catches my eye!
Where do you go in Berlin for inspiration? Berlin is so rich for inspiration, this question is impossible to answer! I would say that the local design is so vast that there are numerous tiny stores that are inspiring. Just walking down the street and passing by some of them can bring inspiration. However, here are some that are crossing my mind right now are Rosenrot, Frau Tulpe, flower stores like Frau Rose, all flea markets, I particularly like the one at Boxhagener Platz, Cremer Cremer in Schoeneberg, and all the tiny galleries in the Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrischain and Kreuzberg districts.
What do you love about living in Berlin? The open space, riding my bike everyday (although I did this in Brooklyn too, but it is definitely better here), the way people here enjoy life simply, the overwhelming history, the constant presence of the wall although it has been destroyed 20 years ago, being close to France, and to so many places in Europe, the cheap rent, the low cost of living, our terrasse, the fact that my friends come to visit me for a weekend with a week notice, or sometimes less — the not too warm Summer…. discovering a new country and a new city.
What would you like to see change there? I would like thing not to change so much, it is impossible to do anyway as Berlin is in constant evolution. I would just like to speak better German!
What five must-see stops do you think all visitors to Berlin should see and why? 1. The Berlin wall documentation center, 2. Friedrischain (around Boxhagener Platz), 3. The Club der Visionaere in Kreuzberg (and everything around it), walk the Berlinmauerweg (but not the crowded Brandenburger Tor-Potsdamer Platz section) along the Spree from Nordbahnof, 4. Enjoy a Sunday in Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg, with the Museum Insel and the crowded flea market at the Mauer Park, 5. The Karaoke at the Mauer Park. Oh and a 6th! Last but not the least, just wander in the little streets of the city, enjoy the creative Berlin street art, the local design stores and the amazing bakeries.
Thank you so much Morgane for writing to me and sharing your lovely apartment, certainly an inspiration to us all!
(images: morgane rouault)
Hello everyone and happy Friday! Today I have a special home tour to share with you from a talented graphic designer in Belgium, Yves Drieghe who is the designer/owner Kaartjeshuis and I LOVE DEER (an e-shop that loves deer and will be offering you them with a fresh look on your wardrobe and more that ships worldwide). Yves and his partner Bert recently moved to a new home that has such a fresh, clean aesthetic and gorgeous view of the countryside. I simply couldn’t resist sharing these snaps of their home with you today. If you have any questions for Yves and Bert about the things that you see, please ask below in the comments section so that they may reply. I love the lightness of his space, the mixture of old and new, and though minimalistic there are still many things that make this space feel warm and cozy. I’m sure you will agree! Let’s get started, shall we… Prepare to drool. The text below was written by Yves, so details about this space to follow…
Something about the process first. Bert and I wanted to combine different things. First of all living in the country (after living in the city), secondly open spaces and daylight, some ecological principles and last: a budget. The house was originally build as a gatekeeper’s or border controll house (in the beginning of the previous century), but has been rebuilt several times over the years. We stripped the house from all annexes, and removed all inner walls as well. We rebuilt with an eco-touch on the outside: a big wooden box was put against the old house (with eco-labeled wood for the box & windows, and solar panels on the roof).
Inside the house we wanted space, and an open atmosphere, which links perfectly to the big windows around the house (over 40 square metre downstairs), and the lack of doors (only the toilet and the wash room have one). It also highly reflects in the Kitchen (our favorite place in the house): low cabinets, and base colors, and a huge 4 x 2,5 m window make the quite big space even more spacious. The decorating finds its origin in Scandinavian design, but mixed with all different sorts of accessories, furnishings and very important for us: Prints! We love design, and good-looking things, but also think it does not have to be expensive to be great. This makes us mix all sorts of things until we find the ideal combination. Think of furniture and accessories found on flee markets or second-hand shops, inherited from old family, and some IKEA stuff (e.g. The IKEA PS Hella Jongerius vases or wall decoration, and numerous prints we’ve bought online. Next to that, we always like a twinkle in the eye and we just love deers… (in case you didn’t notice).
Do you have a favorite nook that you see above? What about a favorite object? I love the dining room space with that country view and my favorite object is the stool with the black lace pattern on top. :) I also like the white china cabinet because it reminds me of a vintage medicine cabinet and I’ve been wanting something like it for a few years now… Lovely views of your home, Yves. Thank you so much for sharing these with us today.
(images: Yves Drieghe)
A few of my favorite things: Mati Rose McDonough
I’m honored to be included here! Here are “A few of my favorite things”. Hello I’m Mati Rose McDonough and I’m visiting while Holly is moving as part of her August guest series “A few of my favorite things”. I’m a painter in San Francisco and have a blog, website of my art and etsy shop.
This photo is in my bedroom where I have one wall painted turquoise (the others are white and the ceiling is sky blue). One of my favorite things is this ceramic mirror my mom made from pieces of broken china she found in Maine where she lives. I love it because It is a daily reminder of my mom and makes me feel nostalgic for the past when people used fine china. I also clearly like accessories—plastic gumball necklaces mixed with handmade and vintage pieces. The silhouette painting is by my local SF pal Annie Galvin.
This photo is an ode to my love of chunky cocktail like rings. They make me feel fancy, even though they were mostly inexpensive baubles.
Moving along, I love this 1960’s turquoise chair that serves as the reading nook in my bedroom. It makes me feel like lounging and reminds me to slow down, sip some tea or a lemon drop and look through some magazines for inspiration. The top pillow is by one of my favorite illustrators Nate Williams.
Next, these tiny bright espresso cups are hung over my kitchen sink and are mostly from the dollar store, but they make me so happy every time I stand here to do the dishes. The calendar is by Nikki McClure. I admire her graphic simplicity using cut paper and grounding sentiments.
Lastly one of my favorite groupings combines my grandmother’s china pitcher filled with colorful chopsticks from Chinatown and tiny plates my friend Stefanie gifted to us for our wedding from local ceramicist Rae Dunn that say: “Have. Pure. Luck.” The Queen Elizabeth painting is by my friend and rising art star Christina Empedocles. The combination of these few beloved things on my shelf makes me feel connected to strong elegant women in the past and present.
In looking through a few of my favorite things I realize that I like playful, affordable, bright and bold mixed with more feminine pieces. My artist husband Lovejoy’s tea room. I appreciate sassy, beautiful, unique and quirky characteristics combined.
Some of my favorite movies and muses are Jean Seberg in Breathless, Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums and Parker Posy in Party Girl. Not to mention singers Santigold, Lucinda Williams and Cat Power and writers Isabel Allende, David Sedaris and Persepolis author and illustrator Marjane Satrapi. I love painters Squeak Carnwath, Beatriz Milhazes and Margaret Killgallen.
Favorite advice: Be yourself everyone else is taken.
Thanks for spending a little of your time with me today on decor8 — I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a few of my favorite things!- Mati.
(photos: Mati Rose McDonough)